Nanny and the Smokers

The Nanny State in the UK has been the subject of a rant or two of mine before. On current form looks as if there are many more to come as the raw material is voluminous.

The latest from Mr. Blah’s Nanny Farm is a plan to introduce a law – and I quote – “effectively criminalising smoking in public”. This was announced by the Government yesterday, with the minister in charge promising an “intelligence-led approach to enforcing the law”.

Apparently informers will be encouraged to report breaches of sweeping bans on the habit, in which company smoking rooms will be outlawed and places such as bus shelters and the outsides of office blocks made no-smoking areas. The ban may also cover sports stadiums that are not fully enclosed.

There will be £200 fines for breaches and penalties for companies that fail to display “No Smoking” signs in areas newly outlawed. Individuals who offend face fines of £50. It is thought that establishments which attract repeated complaints could be subject to “sting” operations by council enforcers.

Caroline Flint, the public health minister, confirmed that the policy would be vigorously enforced with the assistance of informers from the public.

“I don’t think we are talking about brigades of people out on the streets,” she said. “What we are talking about is an intelligence-led approach to enforcing the law.” Ah, grasses. Hah! Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.

We’re back to 1984 again aren’t we? Now I’m fairly anti-smoking in so much as I don’t want to breathe in that sh#t and I am also seriously intolerant and wish my friends did not smoke. But. And this is a pretty big one. Freedom of choice is more important. If folks want to stick burning leaves in their mouths, a practice that if followed for long enough will likely contribute to their early demise, then it is their choice. Not Nanny’s.

Nanny intends that places where people reside, including care homes, adult hospices, psychiatric units and prisons may also choose to be exempt. Really, now let me get this straight. If you are caught smoking a cigarette, legally purchased from a shop with money you earned – and paid tax on – with excise duty having been paid on said cancer sticks, you can be fined. If we take this one step further and assume you don’t pay up you could be sent to prison. Where you are allowed to smoke.

Expect prison overcrowding to increase as smokers feign insanity, rob banks, or simply flout the law and don’t pay the fines in order to be sent down and hence allowed a legitimate smoke.

Madness.

American readers (OK their grandparents) will remember prohibition and what a winner that turned out to be.

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